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Dell Big Data

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Is Big Data – the analysis of a very large volume of varied data coming in very quickly – only for big companies?

Not at all, according to a recent report we at the Competitive Edge Research Reports unit of Triangle Publishing (with whom I am associated) wrote for Dell Software  . The report summarized results of a survey it commissioned on Big Data usage among mid-sized companies (those with between 2,000 and 5,000 employees.) Eight out of 10 of the 300 respondents agreed that they need better data analysis to meet their business goals. Virtually all (96 percent) have one or more big data projects in place or are starting one.

The most frequent improvements cited by those who have already deployed Big Data are increased product quality, greater ability to identify and exploit business opportunities and a better understanding of customer requirements. Expecting 25 percent greater benefits in many areas over the next two years, respondents predicted their Big Data budgets will rise to an average of $6 million over the next two years.

So mid-size firms are hot for Big Data. Where do they need help, and what marketing messages will they respond to?

Opportunities: Consulting

Let’s start with what respondents identified as the biggest drivers of Big Data project success: IT/business collaboration, having the proper skills and performance management to gauge the effects of Big Data initiatives.

This opens up, obviously, a bunch of consulting opportunities. One is the never-ending issue of how to get IT and business to define and manage IT projects carefully enough to get business benefits from them. Specific consulting needs that jump out from the results include:

  • Educating and coaching users on data analysis tools to help them identify, find, cleanse and use the right subset of Big Data to solve their most pressing business problems.
  • Helping users and their peers in IT develop complete and accurate business requirements, so the data geeks know which data and analysis to focus on, and
  • Helping customers choose, implement and understand the results of performance management tools, so they can understand how well their Big Data projects are working and how to improve them.
  • General change management and management consulting to overcome historical suspicion between business and IT, reluctance of business units to share data and “siloed” ways of looking at the business that get in the way of Big Data insights.

Note the powerful, underlying theme I’m seeing in a lot of my work for service vendors: The need for a more “industrialized” approach to IT that delivers consistent, repeatable, measurable services. Any frameworks, best practices, templates or proprietary tools service providers can bring to the table are worth highlighting.

Opportunities: Products

The products customers said they need the most focus not only on managing huge quantities of data, but understanding it in real time and easily sharing the results in a form business users can understand. Specific hot interest areas include:

  • Real time processing of data and analytics.
  • Predictive analytics.
  • Data visualization.
  • Access to cloud-based services to provide anytime, anywhere access to data and applications at lower cost.
  • Data aggregation that spans multiple databases.
  • Big Data platforms such as Hadoop
  • Data dashboards (desktop self-service data integration).

Note also that respondents expect their need tools that cleanse data (remove inconsistencies and inaccuracies) to rise significantly in two years. This is also an attractive area for services, as data quality requires changes to processes as much as technology.

Who to Target, What to Say

Given that budget limits are among the top barriers to Big Data projects, your case studies should highlight how you helped customers meet their top goals. According to the survey, the top three were  ”improve product quality, seize business opportunities and speed decision-making,” followed closely by “obtain better and deeper understanding of customer needs,” “quickly respond to competitive threats or other inputs” and “improve effectiveness of our marketing programs.”

Our findings showed that IT is most involved in Big Data projects, but sales/marketing was a close second. This shows, again, the very pragmatic and business-focused approach the mid-market is taking to Big Data. So does the fact that data from customer/ CRM, sales, manufacturing, supply chain/logistics and corporate financial systems are the types of internal data respondents are most important to Big Data projects.

In building your Big Data marketing efforts, then, remember to focus on business as well as IT needs, and on how you can help produce repeatable and measurable business results. For more information on the report or our marketing services, please contact Larry Marion at Triangle at lmarion@triangle-publishing.com.

Author: Bob Scheier
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I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

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